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Traveling Through Cultures With Ilaha Jeddi

Words By Samiha Ahmed

May 9, 2019

Multicultural travel blogger Ilaha, woman with black hair and shite shirt smiling at camera

Is it possible to feel part of a culture that you were not born in, nor have any blood ties to? I certainly hope so!

The Short of It​

Based in Córdoba, Spain, Ilaha comes from a mix of several cultures, a complexity of identity she explores with her travel blog Almost Spanish. She was born in Canada to Afghan parents, moved to Australia as a kid, and now resides in Spain. She started the Insta-based travel blog during her move to Spain, a place that she is connected to not by birth or blood, but by choice. The blog, curated through Ilaha’s multicultural perspective, is part journal, part travel log, and part love letter to Spain.

Why This Blog?​

Almost Spanish is Ilaha’s first foray into travel blogging, and, in some ways, traveling. In fact, she had never really traveled before moving to Córdoba. Her mother was the one who encouraged her to start documenting her journey and, after a bit of hesitation, Almost Spanish was born.

I always wished I could start a travel blog, but having never actually traveled before, I thought it wouldn't be a feasible idea.

The very first post of Almost Spanish recalls the moment Ilaha first stepped foot in Spain, describing the nervous excitement of finally arriving in the place she describes as her “dream country.” Since that fateful first day, Ilaha has continued to use photographs and captions to document the daily moments of beauty and reflection she finds her new city and adopted culture.

The name [Almost Spanish] pretty much indicates my lifelong confusion about my cultural identity. I have never felt like I am part of just one culture.

You can find Ilaha embracing all of her cultures throughout her blog. Sometimes her appreciation for her chosen culture shines through her photos of Spanish architecture. Other times, her love for the cultures she grew up with appears in throwbacks to her family in Australia. Once in a while, above of a kebab shop in Córdoba that consoled her when she felt homesick, you’ll get a peak into the conflicts that come with being from many places. Through it all, however, Ilaha’s enthusiasm reminds those of us that exist in a gray space of cultural identity that we don’t have to choose one culture over another. Why be one thing when you can be everything at once?

On the Road With Ilaha​

When she’s in a new place, Ilaha loves learning about its history and culture, taking in as much nature as possible, and people-watching (to, in her words, “see if the stereotypes about the country are true or not”).

She also enjoys ditching Google Maps and just trusting her feet to take her to interesting places.

I remember the first day I got [to Barcelona], I didn't use my handy-dandy Google Maps app, I walked up the coast from La Barceloneta beach to Bogatell, and then saw Torre Glories in the far distance. From there I came across a market, and eventually found myself in Parc de la Ciutadella and then Arc de Triomf, and it just so happened that my hostel was 5 minutes away from that! I felt so content and fulfilled that night, that I enjoyed myself and that I found my way around a foreign city!

For other solo travelers, particularly other women, Ilaha provides some practical advice: use your common sense, be alert, and leave your phone on airplane mode. Traveling alone, especially for the first time, can be daunting to many and for that Ilaha suggest going “somewhere easy,” like a destination that “you have been to before, or somewhere close to your own city, so it doesn’t feel too far from home.”

According to Ilaha, Travel is...

Addictive.

Up Next

Next on Ilaha’s travel agenda are Italy and Portugal. After that she will be heading back home to Sydney. As a follower of her blog, you can expect to see photos of her travels, snippets of her daily life as a football fan and city explorer, and thoughts on navigating multiple cultures at once.

For more of Ilaha, be sure to follow Almost Spanish over on Instagram.

This post is part of Burdie Talks, an interview series showcasing travel bloggers from around the world. The series aims to highlight bloggers who we believe add a fresh perspective to the travel experience. If you would like to be featured on Burdie Talks, please send an email to hey@burdie.co with your pitch.